Walking into a skate shop for the first time can be intimidating. Habitat pro Al Davis once likened the experience to walking into a neighborhood barbershop, where there are just as many people hanging out as actually getting lined up. Like record stores, these shops are more than just places to buy things — they’re enclaves for a community. Brooklyn’s newest skate shop is keeping that vibe alive, while offering new and vintage items cheaper than most websites.
Roll Gate, is — as the name implies — a small storefront in Bushwick, started by Iron Claw Skates co-founders Tyler Mate and Lou Sarowsky.
“I want the shop to be a place where my friends can hang before and after they skate,” Sarowsky said about the pop-up, which debuted this weekend. “They can hang, drink a beer and smoke. Also let’s not forget a place to talk shit and gossip about other men riding on useless wooden toys.”
The guys had been kicking the idea of a pop-up around for a while, but it wasn’t until a friend of theirs offered up a spot in the Bushwick Flea Market that they decided to go for it.
Both Mate and Sarowsky are skate historians, who have an affinity for what a real shop represents, especially in a time where the average skater spends more time online than on his or her board.
“There was a certain folklore to skateboarding that existed before the internet, and the shop was your insight into it,” said Mate. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Rather than focusing on an elaborate shoe wall and racks of clothing, Roll Gate has more of a neighborhood vibe. Nestled between a fruit stand, a few record stores, and some vintage spots, it’s more Brooklyn bodega than skate shop. In a way, the place calls back to the East Coast’s early shops, often located in the backs of surf or BMX shops, or in one case a sandwich shop on the Hampton Beach boardwalk in Southern New Hampshire.
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Boasting a random assortment of new and vintage products culled from their personal collections and from friends, the store offers up deeply discounted sneakers, decks, wheels, tees, and other accessories. “The goal of the shop is to supply affordable skate supplies like $40 boards, $15 wheels, $50 sneakers,” Sarowsky said. “Then we have completes for $100 — you can’t find that anywhere online or at any skate shop.”
Along with Iron Claw product, the shop carries Prizefighter wheels, Expedition and Krooked boards, and Converse CONS skate shoes in various sizes, along with vintage Supreme, Autumn, and Slap gear. While it’s only slated to run until September, with a short break for an art installation mid-summer, Mate and Sarowsky mentioned the possibility of Roll Gate rolling on.
Roll Gate, 867 Broadway, Bushwick